Religion is undeniably a big part of the Batangueno Culture.
Hence the grandiose celebrations of feast days, the throngs of people that crowd parishes and the altars found inside each and every house.
Another proof is the sea of people who attend the Novena at the Redemptorist (where I frequent) every Wednesday.
The novena, according to Wikipedia.org, is a devotion consisting of a prayer repeated on nine successive days, asking to obtain special graces. The prayers may come from prayer books, or consist of the recitation of the Rosary (a ‘Rosary novena’), or of short prayers through the day. There are four recognized categories of novenae: those of mourning, preparation (for a Church feast, ending on the eve of the feast), petition, and indulgenced. A given novena can belong to more than one of these categories.
They may be performed in church, at home, or anywhere where prayer is appropriate, though some indulgenced novenas do require church attendance. Sometimes, a special candle is lit at the beginning of the novena which burns during the nine days of prayer.
True enough, most of the people I know that attend novenas are people who want to obtain special graces.
Passing the board exam, an offspring, wellness, and jobs are the panatas I would usually hear when the priest opens the proverbial liham.
On a sweeter note though, these letters, for me, bring life to this religious gathering. The letters give us, church goers, an idea that we all live through circumstances and despite its negativity on our lives, we would still resort to Him.
The stories of success, on the other hand, give us hope. Say, when one passed the board exams, one could totally imagine how grateful he is when the priest reads his letter.
The praises found inside the nobenaryo is nothing less than inspirational. My favorite one is the “Mother of Christ” that has a line that goes:
My conscience knows how affected I am when I first read that line. I mean, It struck me even greater than the best Sugarfree ditty ever written. Life changing, indeed.
Browsing the other pages of the book may not give us the whole essence of Christianity but it definitely mirrors the great fate we, Catholics, must hold in times of joy and despair.